Gandzasar monastery

1238 y.

The building of the Gandzasar monastery (Martakert district of Artsakh) began in 1216 and was finished in 1238. The foundation date of the vestibule built in its western side is unknown, but according to the inscription in here the building was finished in 1266.

From historical sources concerning 9-10cc it is known that Gandzasar's old church served as political and religious meeting place for Artsakh and the surrounding Armenian regions.

Several fully-preserved khachkars from the years 1174, 1182 and 1202 dates are evidence that monastic life and monuments existed here before the building of the new monastery.

Gandzasar in a short period became an important and great hearth of region's cultural life, the seat of Eastern Armenia’s patriarchate and the organizer of the national liberation movement. Beginning in the end of 17th century Gandzasar became one of the region's important centers of national movement of liberation. Gandzasar's Catholicos Yesayi, a fighter devoted to the battle of national liberation, became the head of that movement. In his collaboration Israel Ori he took his first steps towards negotiating with Russia.

Gandzasar's temple consists primarily of the church and the vestibule. St.Hovhannes Mkrtich church has a cruciform interior and rectangle domed exterior (sizes of the hall 12,3x17, 75), the four corners of which occupy the two-story side-chapels.

The unknown architect of the temple has created a memorable drum. It is divided into 16 triangular grooves, which are outlined with ornaments. Each triangle has a separate sculpture at its base.

The vestibule has been the grave-house of Hasan-Jalalyan's family. Inside the stony ramparts of Gandzasar, in the northern wing of the church there are eight small and two large rooms. Another, a larger two-story building is placed in the eastern part. In the past it served as a school, then a cloister-hotel. In the system of the temple's ramparts the central entry is an important monument, the gate of which is solved with clearly- trimmed stone and architectural original solutions.

There are around 200 inscriptions on the walls of the temple.

The head of Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist), brought by Armenian merchants from Venice, is buried under the altar of Gandzasar.

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